Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chasing Whiskey or Drinking Whiskey

Ok, show of hands who has stood in line and/or joined a lottery for the BTAC or Pappy or Parkers or Birthday Bourbon?  That's what I thought....a whole lot of you.  I admit, I too joined a lottery as I figured it's no effort on my part to enter my email and hit submit.  I was shocked to find out I didn't

Actually, I wasn't shocked.  The congregation of whiskey seekers is deep and only gets worse year over year.  The hunt simply isn't fun and in fact takes a lot of time and energy to acquire these very limited bottles.  Take George T. Stagg which is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique collection.  They dumped 128 barrels but yield was lower than normal with some barrels only containing a few gallons.  So, good luck finding a bottle retail and if not there then look on the secondary market but be prepared to pay five or six Benjamin's for said bottle.

Gone are the days of asking for and getting multiple bottles or the whole set of BTAC.  The lottery I joined asked which one of the 5 did I, that's it.  I visited my local ABC store and decided to go ahead and fill out the special order form entering George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller and Saz 18.  The manager took my form and upon reading my request, chuckled out loud.  I'm actually not expecting much and would be surprised if I got a bottle next year.

This leads me I guess to my musing.  Some people chase these bottles to flip and some to drink.  To me, I'm simply not interested in drinking whiskey that cost me $500 or more.  Now, if you're talking some rare 40 year old Scotch or Japanese whiskey, well then maybe it would be worth it.  But Stagg or Saz or Weller or even the vaunted Pappy simply are not worth the money that many retail or secondary market sellers are asking.

As many readers of this blog know, I do a lot of barrel picking and that to me provides great drinking without having to stand in line for hours or fill out multiple lottery forms.  For those of you who cannot pick private barrels, I would encourage you to do a little scouting around your local liquor stores and see if any of them do store barrel picks of Old Weller Antique, Four Roses Single Barrel or Knob Creek 120.  I'm not suggesting that these will be superior to the normal shelf offering but these single picks do offer something a little more unique that what you can find typically.  Besides single barrel store picks, there's a ton a great whiskey's on the shelf that can provide hours of satisfying drinking enjoyment. 

For those looking for solid whiskey's at a good price, may I suggest the following varietal selection:

Old Grand Dad 114
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond
Makers 46
Elijah Craig 12 year
Old Weller Antique
Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve Rye 104 pf
Baby Saz
High West Rendezvous or Double Rye

Single Malts/Pot Still:
Glendronach 15 year Revival
Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yr cask
Balvenie Doublewood 12 year
Talisker Storm
Lagavulin 16 year
Yamazaki 12 year
Redbreast 12 year
Green Spot NAS

Hibiki 12 year
Monkey Shoulder
Compass Box Spice Tree
Sheep Dip

Update 12/17: Sadly, a couple of the selections above have been discontinued or in the case of Glendronach 15, unavailable for a period of time.  Elijah Craig 12 and Hibiki 12 have been discontinued. 

This is just a very small sampling of whiskies that I feel are great pours for prices that will range from $15 on the low end to maybe as high as $100.  So, stop chasing elusive whiskey and start buying easy to find whiskey and drink up.